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Advent 2015: Born Is The King: Day 24

Jesus Is Immanuel

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Today's Text: Isaiah 7:14, Luke 1:26-38, Matthew 1:18-25

Text: Isaiah 7:14, Luke 1:26-38, Matthew 1:18-25

It must have been strange to stand before the seraph dressed in light, strong and otherworldly, and hear him tell her not to be afraid. Perhaps it was even stranger for Mary to discover that God had formed an overall impression of her. She was known by God, and He favored her. He liked her (Luke 1:28).

The angel told Mary she would conceive a son who would rescue His people from their sins. God had already chosen His name—Jesus, which meant “salvation.”

But the angel’s message did not come without consequence for Mary and Joseph. It would lead these two young people to live as fugitives for a time, fleeing from the paranoia of a ruthless and powerful Roman ruler. And on top of all that, as her belly expanded, Mary and Joseph would have to endure the suspicious looks of friends and relatives who couldn’t help questioning her purity and his character.

All of this was coming, and so much more.

The angel continued with his message. Mary’s boy would grow to reign over the people of God as their Savior and King. The God who promised David so many years before that his royal line would see no end, would keep that ancient covenant by bringing an heir to Israel’s throne through this young woman.

“But how can this be, since I’m still a virgin?” she asked. For her to bear this son, she must conceive, and virgins don’t conceive. Everyone knows this.

The angel explained that all the laws of nature are amendable by the one who wrote them. Mary lived in the world that was made, and the Maker of this world was the sole Author of what could and would happen here. How this would happen was incidental to the fact that it would. And God would be the one to do it.

The angel needed to pay Joseph a visit as well.

Joseph was a decent man. He didn’t want to shame Mary, though he could have and no one would have blamed him. What could he do? His bride-to-be was pregnant, and he wasn’t the father. This burden must have weighed heavily on his heart, flooding his thoughts and his dreams.

One night as he tossed and turned, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. He had come to set something straight. This baby was not forming in Mary’s belly because of anything she had done. This was something God had done—something God was doing, part of the order and structure of His divine purpose.

“Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21). There was a purpose in this for both Joseph and Mary. She would bear the child, he would name Him, and the child would save them from their sins.

Was this what the prophet Isaiah meant when he foretold that a virgin would conceive and have a son who would be called Immanuel—God with us (Isaiah 7:14)? This virgin Isaiah spoke of, could this really be his Mary?

written by Russ Ramsey
adapted from Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent Narrative

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  • Becca Bailey

    He is still our Immanuel – He remains “God with us” in the midst of all of the struggles, victories, sorrows and joys of this life!

  • Reylena List

    I love that before Jesus is even born we see his powerful character….he is already defying laws of nature. His ministry of grace and power already begin before his birth. I love how powerful our savior is. I can take confidence in knowing that his plans, power and ways are more than I can sometimes comprehend.

  • “Nothing is impossible for God” Luke 1:37
    5 powerful words!! This really stuck out for me.

  • Maribeth

    Quick question after reading through the comments – the conception of Jesus is the Incarnation, not the Immaculate Conception, right? Given the time of year, I just wanted to make sure I have my terminology right. Thanks for any help! And thank you Russ for helping us to meditate more deeply on all the thoughts and feelings that must have come with the angel’s pronouncement to Mary and Joseph!

    • Nina_M

      Yes, exactly. The Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Mary. According to catholic teaching, while she was concieved “the normal way”, God shielded her soul from original sin, therefore “immaculate” (or so Wikipedia says…)

  • My heart aches for Mary and Joseph knowing the things they must have had to endure by following through with God’s plan. The way they were abused and ostracized for what would later be known as the greatest miracle of all time, humbles me and makes me grateful for God’s faithfulness. I am fortunate and blessed to be able to experience God’s forgiveness because of Mary and Joseph’s courage. I am truly blessed!

    http://Www.januaryblossoms.com

  • “How this would happen was incidental to the fact that it would. And God would be the one to do it” — that’s our God! His ways are higher and He is in control! So thankful this young girl trusted & believed… Lord, renew in me a heart like Mary’s, who trusts and believes your word is true & You will do what you’ve said you’ll do!

    • Jena

      Kylee – love that. It continues to show His character as He created all and knows all. I actually think it’s cool to think although they were going to suffer persecution from others there was a bigger purpose because it continues to show me that sometimes we don’t want to deal with the growing pains that may come with a God sized plan, and that if we just believe in Him, it will all work out for our good in the end.

  • Shauna Jayh

    What an Amazing truth.

  • I love Mary’s response and pray for a similar heart as hers. Her reaction to the angel is not one of fear or anger or rejection. She says yes to God. She says she will be His servant. What a scary situation she was put in and to have such a quick response of willful obedience to whatever God’s plan was is why she was favored by God. Then to think ‘would God favor me? Would I react the same to His plan? DO I react the same to His plan as Mary did?

    • Kylee

      Amen. May we always day YES to God’s plan with a quickened, ready heart!

    • Sara

      I think too though we are much like Mary in that we point out the “how” to God, how we aren’t prepared, how it’s not possible logically, just like Moses when he was called for a purpose. It’s not ours to understand the incidentals just as God isn’t concerned with them, just of the promise secured by our affirmation that anything is possible in Him.

  • AshleyAylsworth

    Has anyone read the book (Behold the Lamb of God) that this passage is from? I’m interested if it’s good supplemental reading?

    • Amanda

      My husband and I have been reading it for our advent devotions together this year. It’s been a good read and we’ve enjoyed it thoroughly! It’s made us ponder anew the Christmas story again and comes highly recommended!

  • Sheilla

    Thank u
    Please sign me up for the daily scripture
    Merry Christmas

  • Bethany W

    I find that both Mary and Joseph’s obedience is astounding. As soon as the words “do not fear,” “nothing is impossible with God,” and “by the Holy Spirit” were spoken, the Bible says that Mary said, “let it be according to me” and Joseph said, “he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him.”

    Oh how I fear that I would crumble. Coincidentally, I’m reading “Power of a Praying Wife” by Stormie Omartian, in which today’s chapter was “His Obedience.” God in His all powerful way spoke to me about my obedience as well and really showed me it’s rewards tonight while reading SRT. In this chapter she writes, “God’s word promises that by being obedient to His ways your husband” (in this case I was thinking of myself as well) “will find mercy (Psalm 25:10, KJV), peace (Psalm 37:37), happiness (Proverbs 29:18), plenty (Proverbs 21:21). Not living in obedience brings harsh consequences (Proverbs 15:10), unanswered prayers (Proverbs 28:9), and the inability to enter into the great things God has for him” (or me, and my family)(1 Corinthians 6:9).

    I’m resting in the peace of Mary and Joseph’s steadfast and ready way of being tools for God’s plan and the blessing which they received in their obedience. If you have time to read those scriptures – it’s worth it.

    • Bethany W

      Oops… I left out a few other things from my quote of Power of a Praying Wife… In regard to obedience you will find “blessings (Luke 11:28), and life (Proverbs 21:21).”

  • I love the thought that God *liked* Mary (I think favor has connotations of her merit to me) but liked…that opens up the connotations (to me, at least) of enjoyment, delight in who Mary was. And like has been noted, what He asked her to do was really crazy and difficult. She probably always carried a certain amount of ‘shame’ in the world’s eyes for getting pregnant before she was married. But God chose her for that life, at least partly, because He liked her. And, though it’s taken me 29 years, I’m finally starting to believe He likes me too :-). Which definitely makes it easier to trust Him when He asks me to walk in difficult paths.

    • Kylee

      He likes you, AND He loves you Laura! I liked your thoughts today!

  • So grateful to SRT for this wonderful service for us all. I can tell you that solely this website has awoken my thirst for scripture and His truth. Wishing all of the SRT community a blessed Christmas and one where we more deeply realize His majestic love for us. May we serve and love others from this place. Thank you SRT contributors as you have all impacted me and my walk profoundly. Your honesty, humility and incredible insights are have been gifts to opened each day. My greatest thanks…

  • This is my first season with SRT as well and I have enjoyed studying with you ladies! I love the Christmas narrative and how it’s beautifully written, but most of all I love how It is not at all how you would picture a Kings’ birth! I have a special prayer request as I’ve just found 2 days ago that I am with child! I’ve went through 4 miscarriages and have a miracle boy that’s almost 2. Please join me in prayer over this pregnancy, I am trying to trust God, the creator of life, but satan would have me to live in fear that any minute I could lose this baby because of my history. I rebuke satan and his lies and am clinging to God and His unfailing love! Please pray me me that I may live in faith and not fear!

    • Gina

      This is my first Christmas with SRT too, Jess. What a joy to prepare to welcome baby Jesus again into our hearts with this wonderful group of women.
      Please know I am praying this day that God will give you peace as you await the coming of this baby. That in this anxious time His spirit will live and grow in you and protect you from all your fears.

      • Jess

        Thank you so much Gina! God Bless you and have a Merry Christmas!

  • This is my first Christmas with SRT and I am grateful beyond words to read and understand things more deeply. The profound amount of love, respect, and admiration I feel in my heart reading the Christmas story is something I’ve not felt before. I think back to years past and while the giving spirit has always been in me, I never realized the magnitude of what God has given us. It boggles my mind that such grace has been bestowed on someone like me, yet I now find fervor in rejoicing and doing God’s will. What joy overcomes me at the birth of our Savior!

    • She Reads Truth

      Hi Joanna! What a joy it is to have you here. So grateful to hear what God is teaching you and praising Him for these Truths!

      xoxo-Kaitlin

  • Some of my favorite passages to read in scripture are those comparing OT prophecy and how Jesus fulfilled those promises in the NT. I am so thankful to serve such a faithful God.

    Every time I finish a prayer journal, I enjoy going back and reading all of my prayers to the Lord. I just finished a journal that I started in January. When reading through the prayers, I got so discouraged and angry with God that I was still praying the same thing almost a year later. I questioned his faithfulness, His righteousness, His goodness and ultimately His love for me. But God is faithful. He is righteous. He is good. He is love. Reading how Jesus fulfilled so many promises God made reminds me of this. If God can fulfill the promise that Jesus will be born of a virgin made 8 centuries before, He can (AND WILL) be faithful to me. His answers may not be what I want and may not come when I want them, but he will be faithful. I can trust Him.

    Today, I went back and read those prayers again. Instead of looking at the two requests that seemed unanswered a couple of days ago, I saw the (what felt like) hundreds of requests that God answered so faithfully. He cured family members. He restored relationships. He provided me wisdom and perseverance to pass a class I was once so worried about. He revealed himself to a family member when she accepted Christ as her savior. He provided financially. HE WAS SO FAITHFUL.

    We serve such a wonderful, faithful, and good father, and I’m thankful for SRT in helping reveal that to me.

    • Chandler

      Thank you for that reminder! It was one that I needed today.

    • She Reads Truth

      Love, this Lizz! Thanks for joining us today!

      xoxo-Kaitlin

    • Amanda

      Beautiful! Thank you for sharing!!

    • Kylee

      This is fantastic Lizz, thank you! I’m going to start reading through my prayer journals when I’m done, as it stands they just sit on the shelf but your idea makes way more sense!

  • Ansley Little

    The Christmas story is so awesome.

    When Joseph found out Mary was pregnant, it was within his rights to have her stoned! But, decided to divorce her quietly. That shows us his heart.

    I love that.

  • Oh how our narrow minds cannot grasp the full glory of God’s Story written on everything in creation! We can’t see the whole picture or understand the graceful storyline of this love story of God. But in little ways, God reveals His plans to us, and we always find them to be good. Not always easy. Not always fun. But good, pleasing, and perfect (Romans 12:2).

    I find rest today in God’s Story and in where He has placed me in it. May we be able to say and live as Mary did when she said, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38)

  • I believe someone has already mentioned this, but I so love these words: “The angel explained that all the laws of nature are amendable by the one who wrote them. Mary lived in the world that was made, and the Maker of this world was the sole Author of what could and would happen here. How this would happen was incidental to the fact that it would. And God would be the one to do it.” I find it all too easy to forget that the laws of our world bend to the will of God. What a poignant message, both in regard to the birth of Christ, and in regard to all the things (good and bad) going on in our world these days. What a gift it is to know the One who commands all things!

    • Hannah

      Yes, those words struck out to me as well. Being an author, I understand how the one writing the story has the power to change all of the rules. Thankfully, the One with Power is a good and gracious God! And He has come!

    • Bethany W

      Certainly a gift to know and have a relationship with the one who commands all things, even those to come. Praying for you!!

  • Caroline @ In Due Time

    Thankful that the Lord knew all along we need a Savoir. Thank you Jesus for bearing our sins!

    http://www.in-due-time.com

  • I can’t help but wonder if Joseph had a hard time trusting his soon to be wife when she told him she was pregnant, even though she said an angel appeared to her.

    • Amy

      Me, too, Carlie. I keep thinking what incredible faith Joseph exhibits. We’re not privy to his thoughts, other than his plan to quietly divorce Mary, so I can only imagine his struggle. I love that when the angel does appear to HIM, he immediately does everything the angel says. I imagine that even in his doubt about Mary, which I assume he had from his plan to divorce her, his heart was growing ripe for obeying God’s commands.

  • “The angel explained that all the laws of nature are amendable by the one who wrote them. Mary lived in the world that was made, and the Maker of this world was the sole Author of what could and would happen here. How this would happen was incidental to the fact that it would. And God would be the one to do it.”
    Man! This paragraph really struck me today. And what’s so awesome is: God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever!! This truth always will be….what is impossible for man is possible with God!! An easy thing to forget, but oh so powerful when remembered.

  • Things in life don’t always go as planned. Today’s reading is a reminder of that, for sure. Remembering that this world is created and what happens is what God’s allowing to happen is HUGE for me. It’s all a structure of His purpose. I needed that this morning.

    • She Reads Truth

      Becky, I’m so grateful for this reminder too! Thanks for joining us today!

      xoxo-Kaitlin

    • Amy

      Amen to this, Becky. Isn’t the Christmas Story a true gift in helping us to see that trust is a requirement. I am quite humbled by how profoundly this message is being spoken to me this year. Praise our most Heavenly Father and His gift to our world… leaves me speechless and comforted beyond words…

  • I love reading our community’s tangent thoughts that come from the scripture and following posts. And today is no different. We are so used to going out on our own, trying to MAKE things work–forgetting that if God tells us something through His Word, circumstances, people, His church that He doesn’t push us out the door and say, “Good luck! Let me know how it all works out.” But instead, He gives us His Holy Spirit to empower, lead, and give understanding to the task. What struck me with the story of Mary–after reading Kelly’s post and following thoughts–is that the Triune God was present. God through His messenger came to Mary; the seed of Jesus lived inside of her; the Holy Spirit gave her the strength to walk a journey NO ONE else would ever walk. The message of Christmas is SO powerful!

    • She Reads Truth

      Terry, I love the community comments, too! So glad you are a part of them. We love having you in our community!

      xoxo-Kaitlin

  • Churchmouse

    Paul told Timothy that we should be careful not to look down on anyone because of their youth. Age is irrelevant in God’s economy. As a young betrothed woman, Mary revealed herself to be an obedient servant to her Lord, essentially saying ‘Thy will be done. ” It wasn’t her age but her willingness that is most remarkable. Young and old alike can prefer comfort over commitment. Here we see obedience trumping all. Lord, may I daily surrender to You, doing whatever it is You ask of me.

    • Reylena List

      Thanks for this, in my job I am the youngest…And there’s the idea that I am too young…sometimes I think I can’t do my job because I am too young. However, the lord has brought me to this job with his incredible favor and walked me through and sustained me…IMMANUEL. I can continue to new obedient..that is what the lord sees.

  • Mary humbles me as a servant of Christ. In the Women of the Bible study, I indicated this. I think to her young age and although times were very different than when I was the same age, I’m blown away by her response. Too many times in my life I’ve argued with God over things He was asking of me, yet Mary responded with such grace and acceptance. She was going to be carrying God Himself and this young woman responded, “Behold, I am your servant …. Let it be.” I recall the seasons God gave me instructions, some I refused and some I obeyed but kicking and screaming. Complaining the entire way. That is no way to move into God’s plans for me. What is important to hold onto is that just as Kelly pointed out, God was with Mary … and God is with us. He would never ask us to walk a road He won’t go down with us. In fact, He has already walked the roads He sends us down. He knows the paths by heart; the curves, the hills, the forks. He stands before us whispering similar words, “Do not be afraid for you have found favor with me … I am with you and I will never leave or forsake you.” Prayerful that I wake each day knowing whatever lies before me on my path God is hand in hand with me. That I recall with each request He is there and that He loves me enough to ask hard things of me. Prayerful that I remember those hard things shape me, refine me and deliver me. Prayerful that I humble my heart and lean into all God asks of me, letting go of my pride, my fear, and my unwillingness. ~ B

    • Amanda Wilson

      love this!

    • Lyle

      “Prayerful that I remember those hard things shape me, refine me and deliver me.” Love this, B! How often I seek my own comfort and ease instead of allowing God to take me on, to “lean into all God asks of me.” Praying with you, to give God my “yes” as Mary did.

    • Nancy

      Thank you for your encouraging thoughts and personal lessons.

    • Verna

      Yes and amen!

    • Buzzb

      Such an encouraging and honest thought, one that I needed to read today.

    • Hannah

      I’ve never thought about this path of life quite like this! The way God knows by heart all of the bends and curves. That was a powerful illustration for me, so thank you very much for sharing!

    • Kiley

      so glad that you shared this!

  • Kelly S

    I hadn’t thought of it until this morning, that God was literally WITH Mary from the moment of the immaculate conception. His presence was in her. I can only imagine the peace and comfort she felt. The Holy Spirit had not come to minister to believers at that time, so to carry the presence of God inside was a new thing. God asked her to do a difficult thing, but gave her His presence to help her through.

    He does the same for us through His Spirit. When Jesus left the earth, God sent His Spirit to dwell in believers. This gift continued Immanuel—God with us. Even today, 2 millennia removed from the days the Son of God walked the earth, God is still with us. His presence in is still comforts and brings peace. He still guides and He still loves. Thank you, God, for Immanuel!

    • Missy CM

      Love this insight about the Holy Spirit being with Mary. Thanks, Kelly!

    • Missy CM

      And now I´m on a Holy Spirit tangent… dug out my copy of The Valley of Vision, “Spiritus Sanctus”, which is especially poignant through the lens of today´s reading… “Come as power, to expel every rebel lust, to reign supreme and keep me thine; Come as teacher, leading me into all truth, filling me with understanding; Come as love, that I may adore the Father, and love him as my all; Come as joy to dwell in me, move in me, animate me; Come as light, illuminating the Scripture, moulding me in its laws; Come as sanctifier, body, soul, and spirit wholly thine; Come as helper, with strength to bless and keep, directing my every step; Come as beautifier, bringing order out of confusion, loveliness out of chaos. Magnify to me thy glory by being magnified in me, and make me redolent of thy fragrance.”

    • ~ B ~

      I had the same leaning this morning Kelly. It astounds me the gravity of this and yet it hadn’t fully occurred to me either. Love to you! ~ B

    • Lyle

      Powerful thought, Kelly! God did not leave her to walk alone, but literally put His presence within her. I never thought of this either! Thank you for sharing! Now to think of how His presence in me should be a game-changer every day…nothing too difficult!

    • Hannah

      “This gift continued Immanuel- God with us.” How marvelous? Jesus will be with us for all eternity! What hope, grace, mission, and strength!

    • Amanda

      Thank you for sharing your insight! I hadn’t thought of this either! I imagine it was a comfort amd peace to know God was with her through everything she had to endure. And to realize we can have this same experience of peace and comfort. That’s what Christmas is about. Oh tidings of comfort and joy!

  • She would bear the child, he would name Him, and the child would save them from their sins….He would save US from our sins….
    Wow..
    That’s a whole lot of responsibility for a tiny 7lb baby…and yet …

    But God..He did this for me, for you, for us, our families …The world…THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL…His Son.., that we would be saved from our sins…from our fears, our loneliness, our heartaches, our lack of…
    God gave His son, Jesus, that we would have HOPE…hope in, and for a better world, hope in, and for relationships, HOPE in, and for love, hope in heartache, hope for, and in joy…HOPE…
    His name is HOPE…for ALL…

    Immanuel…God with us…God within us…WOW what a gift…what a God…what a Savior
    Thank you Jesus, thank you, God, for everything…truly Lord God, Thank you…XXXXX

    His name is HOPE….
    Immanuel…God with us..Amen. …Amen…Amen.

    Sending out some festive love wrapped hugs…that this Christmastime will be so so God filled with love.., hope.., joy..Be Blessed, Sisters..and scatter the joy..xxxxx

    • Kelly S

      Hugs right back to you! It is easy to hear the joy in your “voice” as you share the good news of Immanuel with us this morning. Oh that we would all have such joy over the first coming of our Savior!

    • ~ B ~

      “Immanuel…God with us…God within us…WOW what a gift…what a God…what a Savior” YES! YES! YES! Hugs to you to T! ~ B

  • This was amazing! We forget that as the One who MADE this world and universe that God can defy all of our standards and do things beyond our imagination, for HIS glory and to show us how great his love is towards us! Amazing, the birth of Christ shows this!

    • ~ B ~

      “We forget … that God can defy all of our standards…” Love this. It is so true. Daily we put God in our boxes and forget that the Creator of the Universe can change the Universe. Rules don’t apply! LOVE! ~ B

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